Artsy, two-dimensional indie platforms are dime-a-dozen these days. The seventh generation of home consoles brought about an absolute deluge from the niche genre, which is actually somewhat surprising given the desperate attempts of the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube to transition into an entirely 3D gaming space. This resurgence owes a huge debt to Jonathan Blow and Microsoft for their landmark title Braid, but we aren’t here to talk about that success story (yet). Today we are highlighting one of the simplest and most beautiful examples of the 2D platform resurgence.
Sound Shapes released simultaneously for PS3 and PS Vita, but it most be seen on a big HD television to be fully appreciated. The bold, stark colors and crazy level design perfectly complement the eclectic soundtrack for which the game is named. Headlining artists like Beck and Deadmau5 are featured right alongside more obscure talent like Jim Guthrie of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP fame. In fact, you could go ahead and call this 25-in-25 entry an honorary Music Monday.
The basic premise is one half NightSky and one half Bit.Trip. As a tiny little ball, it is your task to traverse a number of levels (presented as songs on an vinyl record), while collecting notes that fill out the background music of the stage. Each section starts off with a minimal baseline and the skeleton of a melody, but by the time you reach the end and tally your point total you will have constructed an entire soundscape. Obviously, the entire experience would fall flat with a weak OST, but tracks like “Cities” and “Break-a-Noids” are good enough that they wouldn’t feel out of place on actual retail albums. The former even won the 2012 Spike Video Game Award for Best Song in a Game, for what that’s worth.
There were a ton of brilliant 2D indie platformers released over the last generation. Queasy Games’ entry into the genre still manages to stand out with copious amounts of user-generated content and a killer score. Competition was certainly fierce in this particular niche, but Sound Shapes can stand proudly among that crowd as Sony’s enviable exclusive. Look forward to the launch day port for the PlayStation 4.
You can find more articles in our 25-in-25 series over here, and stayed tuned tomorrow for another look at a great PS3 title!